25 percent of motorcyclists ride in shorts

Dailies -


KTM-Shorts.jpgIn a study conducted by Consumer Reports, 25 percent of American bike-riding respondents said that they sometimes rode in shorts. In general, the survey results indicate a very low rate of usage for basic safety gear like helmets, gloves, boots and jackets and similar results for formal training, yet a very high number of respondents that consider themselves expert riders.
The survey results indicate that respondents have the following

10%: have been in an accident in the last five years
10%: always wear high-vis clothing
10%: always wear protective pants
25%: don’t always wear a helmet
25%: always wear a protective jacket
25%: sometimes ride in shorts
25%: of accidents involved broken bones
33%: of accidents result in road rash
50%: have taken a formal riding course
50%: of accidents were single vehicle
50%: don’t regularly wear boots
50%: don’t regularly wear gloves
60%: sometimes ride in a short-sleeve shirt
70%: consider themselves “experienced” riders

To conduct the study, Consumer Reports polled 1,383 of its bike-riding
subscribers. No particular make or model of bike is represented, just
general riders.

Consumer Reports

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D.
  • TEvo

    Ah Consumer Reports.

    I suspect their readership is probably more “hobbyist” rather than “enthusiast” when it comes to automotive and motorcycling matters.

    Compare this versus the results of a Motorcycle Consumer News survey and I think there will be very different results.

  • spectator

    I imagine that this polls a ton of older males, baby boomers, (who actually subscribes to consumer reports?) and then I assume it is mostly cruiser riders; also, cruiser riders who are not dead.

    My conclusion is that this poll doesn’t ‘indicate a very low rate’ of basic gear usage among ‘american’ riders, and none of the respondents claimed to be expert riders, only ‘experienced’ riders, which jibes with my thought that these are a lot of old guys. Insufficient data is provided to determine any meaningful trend about american riders’ gear usage.

    • YoMama

      Cruiser riders usually don’t have a helmet and often wear t-shirts but I rarely see someone in shorts. That’s what makes it funny and sort of ironic. I am much more likely to see a Squid in shorts accompanied by a FF helmet (again sort of ironic).

  • http://muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Nice shorts Wes. You really have, ahem, interesting tastes.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      If you got it, work it.

  • Balzaak

    for the sake of curiosity – I’d like to see a breakdown of what the surveyed ride.

    I’m picturing a lot of Goldwings and Harleys but a small percentage of BMWs

  • telekom

    Yeah, here in Glasgow (not known for warm, dry weather) I often see guys riding in shorts. Last summer I saw a guy in a vest, shorts and flip flops… and a helmet. Two weeks ago a guy was going up and down the road in jeans and trainers, no helmet, jacket, shirt or gloves. On Saturday I saw what I took to be a mature, experienced rider with his lady pillion – she was wearing all the safety gear, he was wearing a tshirt and riding a Pan-European.

    I just wouldn’t. I saw all the photos of de-gloved (I mean skin) hands and feet and full-body road rash. Not for me.

  • Chuluun

    I’d never have dreamed of riding in T-shirt and shorts until I moved to Brisbane, after which I did it a few times before I’d acclimatized. It never felt right and I’ve since stopped doing it again.

    I’ve seen police motorcyclists in shorts and short-sleeved shirts here. I’ve seen scooter riders wearing nothing but board shorts and a half-helmet. I went for a test ride with a salesman who wore T-shirt, shorts, sneakers, no gloves (we rode a ZZ-R600 and an RF900).

  • Jonna

    Weird that no one thinks twice about wearing shorts while ridding a rented scooter on vacation.

  • Tim

    Of course they consider themselves to be, “expert” riders. It would be foolhardy to ride without protective gear if you weren’t…

    Very few riders go through a risk-reward type of analysis of their riding gear and habits. If we could teach people that, there would be far fewer accidents and those that did happen, would have fewer far reaching consequences.

  • JohnC

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. Just 5 minutes ago, a kid on a cbr passed me. He was wearing shorts, sneakers and a t-shirt and drinking a bottle of water. When I caught up to him at the next red light, he almost dropped his bike while taking off his shirt. Minus the water bottle, this is fairly common here in FL.

  • Ninjah

    That’s pretty common down here in Florida – sport bikes and cruisers alike. It’s all risk/reward and let me tell you it’s f’ing HOT down here, so I’m not surprised.

    Hell, I’m guilty of riding around in a t-shirt if I’m just zipping down to the corner store and back. Never catch me in shorts though – the sunrays can’t compare to searing exhaust pipes.

  • vic

    and the difference between riding shorts and jeans is…ehmm[shorts don't give you a false sense of minimal security]

    however i am guilty of wearing jeans and other non-protective pants while riding,
    especially in the summer time.it’s a risk i am willing to take although the though of skidding at 50 km/h on hot pavement with nothing to stop me expect my own skin is terrifying,
    much more than broken bones .

  • jwinter

    Did they also test for levels of self-delusion and stupidity?

    Not as bad as these guys though…

  • jwinter
  • Duncan Domingue

    Just wanted to chime in to level the field of commenters; I wear shorts, t-shirt, chucks, and full-face helmet on my bike almost everyday of summer. The rest of the year it’s jeans, leather jacket, same chucks, same full-face helmet. Gloves in the winter.

    I would not consider myself an experienced rider, though. My motorcycle has been my only vehicle for the last 2.5 years, and I’ve ridden nearly everyday, but I have plenty of room for improvement. So, I ride with a tendency toward caution and try to avoid squidliness.

    It’s f’ing hot in south Louisiana in the summer. I’m ready to be flamed, flame on.

  • Shawn

    I consider myself an experienced rider. Hardcore enthusiast or expert…No. I always ride in a full face helmet… but I’ve been known to ride in shorts. Definitely not the smartest thing to do, but it happens. I also know that if I go down it’s gonna hurt like a bitch….. really, really, hurt.

  • JR

    “here’s your sign”

  • Baron Von Dangerously

    I would never ride without jeans, full helmet, and at least a mesh armored jacket/gloves.

    The mesh jackets breath very well in the hot weather.

  • Sean Smith

    Taken another way:

    25% of motorcyclists are definitely retarded.

    My personal favorite is kid on the R6 with a Shoei X12, chucks, jorts, and a t-shirt. He waved as I passed. I’m not sure how well a facepalm comes across with gloves and a helmet, but I did my best.

    • pauljones

      I think that about sums it up; but I actually saw worse today. A guy on a Triumph Daytona on the 110 freeway snapped across four lanes to jump into the carpool lane, wearing corduroys, a Tommy Bahama shirt, and a bicycle helmet. In rush hour traffic on a busy freeway. At least the kid on the R6 was wearing a decent helmet.

      • Sean Smith

        I particularly like R6 kid because of the irony. He spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 bucks on a helmet, but neglected to buy even a pair of short gloves.

  • Random

    Do you think bikers take safety lightly in the USA? Better not to come down here south of the equator.


    Walking around here in São Paulo you can see thousands of riders go on t-shirts and jeans pants – it only gets better when it’s cold. Then bikers put on a thin, plastic rain suit that also won’t be of any help when going down. Less than 25% seem to use any gloves, and even less wear protective motorcycle jackets. Thanks god wearing a helmet is mandatory.

    I’ve seen many guys smoking, talking on the phone (look ma, just one hand!) and even driving at night with lights off. Unfortunately haven’t seen anyone (guy or gal) wearing shorts like depicted above.

  • Joe P.

    Riding in shorts? Not an option on my Scrambler.

    I don’t know that my riding gear is that oppressive that I would go without, especially once your moving. My jacket has more vents than most central air conditioning units…

  • C Mad

    riding in shorts is just like not using a condom. it feels great for a long time until that one time you get stung. then it burns like hell.

  • Scottie

    It was so hot and humid in the Hudson Valley the last couple of weeks that I was riding in a t-shirt and jeans. I had my boots on, but honestly, the jeans just offer a nanosecond of protection more than shorts.

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D.

    Maybe its just a reflection of temperatures and locales? I admit, about 50% of the time I ride in the city (speeds up to a whopping 35 MPH), I’ll just wear normal jeans and Doc Martens. If I lived in a city like NOLA in the summer…I may wear shorts too!

    ATGATT is easy when its 45 and drizzling outside!

  • Roman

    I always wear gloves, helmet and a jacket no matter how hot. However, I tend to wear jeans and casual shoes when riding in the city. Should probably invest in a proper pair of riding jeans and decent urban boots, but haven’t found anything that would look normal once you get off the bike.

    Here in Philly, seeing a biker in proper gear is basically an anomaly. Most of the riders in the city are “urban” bike clubbers on stretched busas, while in the burbs, it’s middle-aged men on Harleys. The enthusiast riders are a drop in the bucket. The most egregious case I saw was on a local twisty road, where a guy on a late-model 600 was wearing a helmet, short and no shirt at all. Who needs mesh when you’ve got that kind of ventilation!

    • pauljones

      Try Diamond Gusset Defenders


      They are a little bit pricey, but they are some of the best riding jeans out there.

    • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D.


      These are great riding jeans. Look totally at home in a bar/restaurant/party, but decently protective, at least for the city.

      Boots are much harder to look normal in!

      • Roman

        Those do look sharp, though a bit on the pricey side. If you own a pair, a quick review perhaps?

        I’ve had a few of slow speed spills around town in the time I’ve been riding, and I think it’s pretty lunatic to leave any skin exposed. On the other hand, wearing bike specific gear, head to toe is a bit unrealistic in many circumstances. Perhaps I’m lucky in that I haven’t paid the price and I do gear up fully when I know the riding will be aggressive, but for a quick ride in town, jacket, gloves and helmet is generally enough.

        • Sean Smith

          I own a pair, and I wear them quite a bit. The sizing is just a hair tighter than levi’s, so if you can sport a 30 or a 32, opt for the 32 in Astars.

          These jeans fit great, the zipper that lets them easily go over your boots in completely hidden, and they seem to have enough kevlar to make a difference. My only real gripe is the lack of impact protection. They have a pocket in the knees, but good luck getting the boys at Astars to sell you the armor that fits. I’m lucky in that I have another pair of they’re pants that uses the same armor, so I just swap back and forth.

  • Jay Allen

    Dress for the Beach
    Ride on the street
    fall down
    look like hamburger meat

  • Jay Allen
  • michael

    Few years back I watched a kid on a gixxer tuck his phone between his shoulder and cheek when the light turned green, and ride off. I was amazed. Obviously no helmet.

    On the other hand, does anyone really do ATGATT?Meaning, you NEVER go for a short trip without boots on? Really!? And are jeans really “gear”?They’re not. If your counting having your legs covered is some type of fabric as “geared up”…you’re fooling yourself.

    ATGATT is a nice goal, but far from reality for all but the rare exception.

  • geonerd

    in my personal experience here in montana it’s more like 2 out of 3 who ride without helmets. that usually also means no gloves and no jacket. most people here are riding harleys or some other cruiser so they are at least wearing leather chaps and boots.

    sport bike riders are split in half roughly. those who wear gear, wear all of it. those who do not are some of the squiddliest squids i’ve ever seen, sporting backwards baseball caps, shorts and skanky tatooed pillion hoes.

    IMO there is definitely a correlation between the percentage of riders who wear gear and the state law. if your daddy didn’t wear a lid, you probably won’t either. and so on and so on.

  • nataku83

    Hrmm, Consumer Reports poll, you sure they weren’t talking about bicycles?

    Seriously, though. I definitely can’t ride in shorts on my vf700s. The engine gets wayyy too hot. Even my little cm200 was a bit uncomfortable the one time I tried it. I’m not exactly an ATGATT kind of guy, but I never go out anymore without a helmet, jacket, gloves and long pants. I probably need to buy some real riding pants and boots…

  • HoodieWho?

    Shorts just look stupid, let alone the safety factor.

    If we really want to be safe maybe we should just drive a car. There comes a point that too much gear looks just as ridiculous as the guy in shorts.

    I always wear at a minimum long pants (whatever type I have on, maybe jeans or maybe khakis), shoes (no sandles or flip flops but maybe NB or Chuck’s), gloves, riding jacket, and a helmet.

    I dont think it is practical to have the entire Power Ranger Suit on for every ride to the store or work. Seems kind of overkill. Sure it would be appreciated in an accident but so would an airbag.

  • spectator

    probably the stupidest thing I’ve done is rode 60 miles on PA 76 in a torrential downpour in July wearing a bathingsuit (board shorts), sneakers and a t-shirt (600 supersport). I have a leather race suit, I just didn’t want to get it wet. Dumb; but seriously the “long-pants” argument is idiotic. I’ve gotten scraped up badly wearing jeans and wiping out on a mountain bike. wearing shorts is negligibly different from ‘khakis’ or ‘jeans’ and not wearing armor & reinforced textile, or armor & leather.

    • Hooters

      Probably true, but one looks like a total douche on bike wearing shorts. However, one wearing the complete Power Ranger get up also looks like a complete douche.

  • Rory

    WTF mate!??

    At least power rangers don’t ever need skin grafts. Evar.